Strategic Planning

How to Create a More Effective Strategic Plan

Most Planning
Is Not Strategic

Ineffective strategic plans waste money, miss opportunities to boost performance, and damage credibility with business partners. Unfortunately, while all corporate functions do strategic planning, few do it well. 

As a result, what should be a focused, creative effort to set direction becomes either a bureaucratic time-sink for the leadership team or a solo endeavor by an over-burdened executive.

When you lead a specific function, you are the first line of defense. ”

Joop Brakenhoff
Executive Director Global Audit

Jump Start My Planning

Take Guesswork Out Of
Strategic Planning

As organizations set their strategic priorities, most are uncertain whether they are targeting the right areas for improvement and miss opportunities to increase performance. To help executives and their teams address the key failure points across the strategic planning process, our CEB Ignition Guides to Planning enable you to:

  • Establish strategic objectives for the function
  • Prioritize action steps to achieve the function's objectives
  • Align functional initiatives with business goals
  • Build a strategic plan document

Build Your Function's
Strategic Plan

To help your strategic planning process, we have condensed our resources into three key documents. Select your function to jump to the resources most relevant to you:

CEB, now Gartner, helped us to deliver our business strategy, which helps us accelerate business performance.”

Alun Metford
Head of Global Internal Communication

Strategic Plan

As many Audit departments strive to demonstrate their value to stakeholders, it becomes imperative for them to lay out a comprehensive long-term vision for the function that aligns with organizational goals and risk coverage needs. Leading Audit functions create strategic plans with an articulated framework to guide decisions and help effectively communicate decisions and trade-offs to stakeholders.  

Get started with the Audit Strategy Toolkit.

Strategic Plan

Communications must drive the company’s top line growth by identifying business partners’ goals. But with more demands on their time and no budget for any extra resources, communications need to think differently about strategic planning. 

These are five essential activities communications leaders must conduct for a best-in-class strategic plan. 

The legal department’s traditional operating model - building legal department capacity to support more decisions - is breaking under the weight of increased demand, high expectations, and constrained resources. Legal requires a new model: one that delivers value by building the company’s capacity to make better decisions.

In your strategic plan, focus on your comparative advantage to rationalize the legal service menu. And codify legal decision making to routinize legal work and enable business ownership. The Legal Strategy Toolkit will get you there.

Strategic Plan

Developing a robust Finance strategy is key to the success of transformation projects like reorganization, shared services, outsourcing and offshoring, Finance IT, and process improvement. Unfortunately, lack of proper planning has led 70% of these Finance transformation projects to fail.

The best strategic plans recognize that Finance must deliver both Governance and Guidance work: they present a clear understanding of current and future business priorities, and they identify how to remove inefficiencies.

Human Resources
Strategic Plan

Human capital is increasingly seen by Boards as a main reason why organizations are not achieving their desired outcomes. Human Resources has a key part to play in strategic planning. However, HR strategic plans are often ineffective. 

Find out how you can avoid common pitfalls and learn how the best HR organizations impact business outcomes with HR strategic plans.

Information Technology
Strategic Plan

IT strategic planning has always been critical to advancing business strategy and preparing the organization for change. But today, the breadth and strategic importance of digitalization requires IT leaders to think differently about strategic planning.

There are five essential activities IT leaders must conduct for a best-in-class IT strategic plan.

Strategic Plan

Marketing must drive the company’s top line growth by building a preference for e-retail channels. But with increasing overhead costs and competitor expansion into new markets, marketing leaders need to think differently about strategic planning.

These are five essential activities marketing leaders must conduct for a best-in-class strategic plan. 

Strategic Plan

The ask for Procurement has changed as the function has to not only deliver savings but also provide value around business partners’ most important objectives. Procurement must evolve to meet these changing demands, yet strategic plans often fail to consider business strategy and outcomes are suboptimal as the plan lacks business partner support and a long-term focus.

Communicate a clear and measurable strategy that clarifies the Procurement organization’s current state and its future direction with the Procurement Strategy Toolkit.

Strategic Plan

Sales must drive the company’s top line growth by better penetrating existing markets and growing share of current customer wallet. But with increasing cost of sales hurting profitability and not seeing net revenue growth from existing accounts, sales leaders need to think differently about strategic planning. 

These are five essential activities sales leaders must conduct for a best-in-class strategic plan. 

Meet the Experts

Learn more about some of our experts advising business leaders on strategic planning.

Martha Mathers

Marketing Practice Leader 

Read Biography

Brian Kropp

HR Practice Leader

Read Biography

Tim Raiswell

Finance Practice Leader

Read Biography

Case Studies

Carnival Corporation & plc needed to understand the various characteristics that define a world-class Audit function. CEB, now Gartner helped them create a multi-year plan for departmental improvement.

During a departmental revamping, Harsco needed guidance on how to create new security and ERM programs from the ground up while ensuring the function was contributing to key business initiatives.

Lastar’s finance team needed an efficient way to compare the company’s cost base to that of peer organizations. CEB, now Gartner enabled them to cut costs and better discuss future growth plans.

Strategic Planning Toolkit


Seven Attributes of Strategic Planning

Follow best practice. This report explains the seven things to get right for a strategy with direction.


Strategic Planning Checklist

Advance with confidence. This checklist explains the steps that matter most, common obstacles to avoid, and keys to success.


Functional Strategy on a Page

Plot your course. This template clarifies your organization's current state, its future direction, and the path it will take. Get the strategy on one page for your function.

Unlock the
Toolkit Now

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Success Stories


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CEB, now Gartner’s, strategic planning resources have been integral in our four fold revenue increase across the last 17 years.”

Dick Aubrecht
Vice President of Strategy and Technology
Moog Inc